A Hall Of Fame Career

He might have fallen short of his overall goal for his time at Ohio State, but that did not stop Bobby Hoying from leaving his mark on the school's football program. Having etched his name as one of the top quarterbacks in school history, Hoying reflected upon his career after being announced as a member of the school's athletic hall of fame.

In his eyes, this is the end of the road for Bobby Hoying.

After a career that took him from the football factory of St. Henry, Ohio, to the big city of Columbus and eventually to the NFL, the OSU all-time leader in completions and touchdown passes was one of 12 newly announced members of the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.

When asked what it meant for him to be honored as such, Hoying – who retired from the NFL following the 2000 season – indicated that the honors might be slowing down.

"It's probably the last award I'll have in football, so I'll cherish the moment," he said.

A three-year starter for the Buckeyes, Hoying finished his career with 57 touchdown passes. His name litters the school's records for quarterbacks, where he also leads in categories such as most 200-yard passing games in a career (16), highest passing efficiency in a season (163.4 in 1995) and touchdown passes in a game (5, done two separate times).

While he held down the reins as starter from 1993-95 and compiled a 30-7-1 record, Hoying said it was exciting to be one part of what was viewed as a cutting-edge offense for the OSU program.

"It's just amazing," he said. "You think when you're going through it you're on the cusp of cutting-edge offensive football. At least as a quarterback, I thought we were. Now we're running so much spread and shotgun formations, five wide receiver stuff that we never really did back then."

It all came together in 1995 when, as Hoying put it, then-OSU head coach John Cooper "opened up the offense" and let the team's skilled players make plays. That led to Eddie George's winning the Heisman Trophy and wideout Terry Glenn taking home the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation's top wide receiver.

Despite the group of talented players surrounding him, Hoying and the Buckeyes were never able to achieve their ultimate goal: a national championship. OSU went 10-1-1 in Hoying's first year as a starter, capturing a share of the Big Ten title but dropping a 28-0 decision to Michigan in the regular-season finale.

The Buckeyes would struggle to a 9-4 record in 1994 but did defeat Michigan by a 22-6 margin – just one of two times OSU would beat the Wolverines under Cooper.

But the biggest loss to U-M came in 1995. Despite boasting such a high-powered offense, the Buckeyes went to Ann Arbor and dropped a 31-23 loss to No. 12 Michigan, knocking them out of contention for the national championship and earning them a berth in the Florida Citrus Bowl to face Tennessee.

"I think athletes typically look back at the ‘what-ifs' first and I'm no different," Hoying said. "I would've loved to have won a national championship here. We certainly had the teams to do it. There was a play here or a play there. From that standpoint you think back and think, ‘What if?' but there were certainly so many great memories of great teammates and coaches that I had here."

Asked how many of those "what-ifs" revolved around Michigan, a slight grimace came across Hoying's face.

"A lot," he said. "We beat them my junior year when it really didn't matter. I would've loved to have done that my sophomore or senior year. It would've been a lot different, but you can't really change that."

Hoying attributed OSU's inability to put together a national championship season during the late 90s in part due to the fact that players such as offensive tackle Orlando Pace and Glenn opted to head to the NFL early. As such, the former quarterback said he was pleased to see players such as James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins and Alex Boone all return for their senior seasons.

"We had probably a handful of guys that left (early) that really, you look back: Big Daddy, Shawn Springs, Terry Glenn, a lot of these guys left early that could have made the difference," Hoying said. "You never know. It happened a lot throughout my time at Ohio State.

"I go back and I'm disappointed that we didn't win a national championship, so from that standpoint I'm glad those guys came back and I'm hopeful that they're able to get it done this year."

When the Buckeyes put together a 12-1 season in 2006 and, led by Troy Smith, boasted one of the most explosive offenses in OSU history, they were occasionally compared to the 1995 squad.

Hoying said he could see some similarities between the two teams.

"I think it was a different offense," he said. "They ran a lot more shotgun and a spread offense. I've never been in a shotgun formation, so from that standpoint (it's different). Troy was the guy who made a lot of the plays and we really were 50-50 with Eddie running the ball and us throwing the ball.

"A little bit different, but I think you certainly can compare the weapons – Rickey Dudley, Eddie George, Terry Glenn, some of the guys I had – with some of the guys on that team."

While the memories from his playing career have faded somewhat in recent years – "When I got out of here, the little old lady down the street that didn't really follow football would recognize you and that doesn't really happen anymore," he said – Hoying said he is happy with how it all turned out.

"It's a big honor for me," he said. "I've been told I'm the third quarterback to go in behind Rex Kern and Cornelius Green (since World War II), so being an Ohio kid that's a tremendous honor for me."

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